Of Wimps and Warriors, Can I Please Have the Latter?

Maybe it is just me, but I keep finding that the men available nowadays are not exactly warrior types. And by warrior, I don’t mean that they have to be strong enough to pull a train engine with their teeth and a rope, run a marathon in combat boots and a loin cloth, take on a horde of battling Englishmen like William Wallace or even wrestle a bear.

I just want them to be actual men. The masculine kind. I miss masculinity.  Some say it is toxic, but I find masculinity intoxicating. I will take masculinity over a wimp with a “mangina” any day of the week.

And please don’t misunderstand what I mean. I am plenty badass on my own. I can make my own decisions, earn my own money, order my own food, fight for myself when I have to and stand up for others who might otherwise be unable to do so for themselves. For what I don’t already know, there is YouTube and Google and the Library.  I have survived a lot and done it on my own. I am a fighter and a bit of a smartypants—-although my choices in men might say otherwise.

What I seek is man who can see all the flaws and scars and still be more than okay with me. Someone who sees ME and finds beauty in my old wounds and will gently bandage them when life  (or someone in mine) opens them up and tries to bleed me out. Someone who sees me at my most vulnerable and doesn’t try to capitalize on it or use it as a way to inflict pain. Someone, who at his most vulnerable, will let me respond in kind.

I want someone wild at heart. Someone full of adventure who isn’t afraid of trying new things, seeing new places and meeting new people. A tame, colorless life that finds me in the safety of my own home does not interest me. I have no intention of staying in one place, stagnating like still water in a bird bath. I want to be on a plane or in a car or on a train bound for somewhere beautiful or amazing or full of old friends and potential new ones. I need someone who needs movement like I do.

He should be assertive enough to stand up to me and argue when necessary, not just roll over and curl up in fetal position, too afraid to say something. I would expect him to engage in conversation when issues come up or when we disagree and he should be strong in his viewpoint, but open to understanding and respecting mine. Even if it means we still disagree.

I want someone larger than life, quick to laugh, a bit of a dirty mind and a healthy appetite for life, food and *ahem* grown up time. I don’t want to spend my life watching documentaries on Netflix complaining about the weather. I need to be swept off my feet, dragged off to bed and made to feel like I am the most important thing in the world to someone. I will enthusiastically reciprocate all of it. For the right man. My warrior.

But where do they reside? What I find are men who let their pain dictate their behavior. They are cruel and selfish and self-centered and arrogant. They think only of themselves and what you can do or be for them without any investment on their part. They run and hide when things get uncomfortable, leaving damage and hurt in their wake and they have no concept of give and take in a relationship (or, let’s face it, friendship). They draw you in and then keep you at a safe distance so that you feel, but they don’t have to deal with it or feel anything themselves because feelings are bad.

I know that somewhere these beautiful, masculine, virile warriors exist, however rare they are. I know because I have seen them with a very few of my friends. They exist, but how does one find them? Do you mine them like a precious gemstone in a cave or quarry? Do you find them on some sort of special safari, like some rare animal on the endangered list? Or maybe they are built in some secret factory, the location of which, few are privy to. I don’t know, but would someone please clue me in? I would love to find one of my own. I am quite done with wimps, wussies, crybabies, whiners and selfish a-holes. I need my warrior.

Finding my Joy & Bringing Back Yes

As I have said before, for the last 2 decades I was sleepwalking my way through my life. I was a non-participant in some of the most important years of my oldest son’s life and now I am regretting it,  but I have turned things around and my two younger kiddos are reaping the benefits of a completely transformed mindset.

A number of contributing factors shackled my mind into the mindset of “I can’t”, “I don’t feel like it” and “I don’t have time”, etc. It doesn’t matter the exact circumstances–some of which I covered in previous posts–but how I handled them, or rather how I let them handle me. I fell into this rut that perpetuated negativity that fed itself until I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.

As a kid, I was full of adventure and imagination. I was pretty happy despite my circumstances, which were not always good or fun. I drew and painted and read stories that took me on adventures. I made adventures of my own and dealt with pain of life and growing up the way kids usually do–I adapted and got creative.  As I got older and dealt with more and more adult issues, that adventure was allowed to dwindle until it went away almost completely.

Single parenthood and being solely responsible for another human being chiseled away at who I was at heart. My marriage was something that, instead of bringing out my best, caused me to retreat and diminish, even more, who I was. Most of my relationships have been like that, each one sucking a little bit of life and heart out of me, until the adventure I sought out when I was younger, was avoided at all costs, leaving me unfulfilled and kind of miserable.  I let life do that to me.

When I left my husband, parts of who I used to be, that had been dormant for decades, began to reemerge. I started to wear color and laugh and smile more. At my job I was “accused” of being the happiest and most positive person in the store. That lasted about a year until I let it too beat me down and diminish me. It took my new job to realign everything and put me back on that path to adventure again.

My job gave me the opportunity to dream again. To plan adventures again. To share all of this with my kids. I began to see all the things I missed because I was too tired, had no money and no energy to do. I began to see possibility again. And our adventures don’t always include getting on a plane. Sometimes it is a 20 minute drive to a local landmark or a picnic in the park or driving to another state. Those trips give me joy–joy I get to share with my kids.

“YES!” and “Let’s go!” are now important parts of my vocabulary and thinking. Am I tired? Yes. Do I lack funds? Yes. Do I have time? Not much. Do I let any of this stop me anymore? HELL NO! I find creative ways to make things happen. I find reasons to say yes. I create an environment of excitement and fun. Is it easy? God no. Is it worth it to put in the extra work? Absolutely.

I love watching my kids faces light up as we plan trips and explore new places and experience new things. My happiest times these days are when I am with my kids doing something I would have said “No” or “I can’t” to a few years ago.

So life can keep bringing those challenges. I will keep finding new ways to make “YES” work. I never, ever want to go back to where I was 20 years ago, 10 years ago or even 1 year ago. I like this new arrangement. I like this new way of thinking. The best part of all this? The memories I am giving my kids. That and helping my kids to understand the idea of finding ways to make things work when they seem too hard or even impossible. I want my kids to say “YES!” and “Let’s go”. I want to keep going with that attitude even if it kills me. At least I would be dying with a smile on my face. And with each new adventure, that smile gets bigger and way more difficult to remove.

 

Friendship, Feelings and a Fool

I have started this blog post 3 other times, but I can’t seem to find a way to come from the right place. I have written angry, I have written frustrated and I have written hurt and none of them seem to include much objectivity. I have had about 2 weeks (longer if you count the last several months of insecurity, uncertainty and frustration) to replay events over and over and wonder if I was wrong or acting irrationally or just being plain stupid or selfish. I always find a way to make things my fault no matter who is actually at fault or if the fault is shared. I think that as a woman, I have become very good at that.

So here is the thing, I did something a couple weeks ago that I have been second guessing like crazy. In previous blog posts I have touched on the subject matter and my own difficulty dealing with it.  So, being frustrated, disappointed, a little angry, and a lot hurt, I pulled the plug on a friendship. I didn’t want to, but I felt that I needed some distance and perspective and dealt with it the only way I could.

The friend in question is the former object of my affection. I say former, but I am truly full of shit.  Those feelings I have for him never really went away and I was trying to convince myself that they had. Therein lies the problem. Feelings.  When I first became friends with “M”, I just thought he was awesome–he is an artist and he has his shit together (mostly) and we had some things in common and he was so easy to talk to. He is also smart and funny and has some amazing wisdom and perspective I don’t always see in people.  All of those very attractive qualities in one package are rare, but then you add the fact that he is good looking as hell and compassionate. I guess it was inevitable for me, but not so much for him. He does not see me the same way I see him.

When it became apparent that my feelings had evolved, he very firmly put me in the friend zone. He had absolutely no interest in any kind of relationship with me and after seeing his “type” that he gushes over, I can see why. I am nowhere near looking or acting like them. (it seems I am not nearly vapid, duck-lipped, pretty or thin enough). That is beside the point, but whatever.  He did tell me that he valued my friendship and our conversations and didn’t want this new development to change our friendship.  That is what he said.  I wasn’t sure how to act or what to think at that point. I wanted to be friends and hoped it could be more, but if friendship was all I got, then I would just live with that and appreciate his presence in my life.  While things weren’t supposed to change, they did.

I began to notice that he never texted me unless I texted him first. That went on for a couple of months. On very rare occasions, maybe 2 or 3, he texted me first and one of those was him lecturing me on my word selection in a response to one of his posts on facebook.  I am beginning to wonder if this is just a guy thing or what, because I have noticed a few men do this. Well, maybe more than just a few.  I think they view friendships and their place in them differently than those of us on the female side of things. If we value someone or consider them to be in our small circle of friends, there is generally a reciprocal, give and take type of situation that occurs. Sometimes I start the conversation, sometimes you start the conversation, sometimes we hang out and there is no need for conversation. But in this case, that is not the way it was.

I began to feel like I wasn’t such a welcome presence in his life, like maybe he was just placating me with words until he could move on to something or someone else, much more important than me. The conversations were great and I thoroughly enjoyed them, which really didn’t help the feelings issue, but when someone takes 3 or 4 days to bother themselves to read your message, chances are, you aren’t really high on their list or anywhere inside that small circle of friends they keep close. My insecurities got the best of me and I let them decide my value.

I attempted to include him in my life by inviting him and his son to meet me and my boys in Twin Falls for lunch and a visit to Shoshone Falls and he told me he would get back to me closer to the weekend. He completely blew me off and never bothered to let me know that he wasn’t coming. This is another thing I think guys view differently or maybe he was married so long that it didn’t occur to him that a simple text to let me know he couldn’t come would have sufficed. The second time that happened it was kind of a test, I guess.  I wanted to think I was important enough for him to take 30 seconds out of his day to text me and let me know that he was or wasn’t going to join our other friend and me for drinks and once again—not a word.

I tried to imagine what he would say, what advice he would give, to one of the anonymous  posters on a divorce support page we both follow, if they were in the same position I am.  With all of his insight and wisdom, he would probably tell me something I wouldn’t like. Something that I feared was true–that he really wasn’t interested in being in my life despite the words he said. Time to move on, he would say. Find someone who values you. I had invested so much of myself into my friendship with him and I didn’t really want to give that up.

But I was tired of investing so much into a situation that was so one-sided. I felt like I was investing and he was pulling away. Just to see if what I suspected was true, I decided to stop texting. Twenty-three days went by and he didn’t even notice I was gone. Not a word. I know he is a very busy person. He has a LOT on his plate, but, 23 days? I did finally text him when my boys and I were in Seattle. Then I texted him a couple weeks later to invite him to go out with my friend “A” and I. That was the test. I wanted to know I mattered and if he would make some effort to be there or at least let me know he wouldn’t be able to make it. I got my answer.

That was the moment I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I care about him so much, but I needed to care about me more. So I unfriended him on Facebook and stopped texting him. Things were great until I caught feelings and it seems he just couldn’t deal with a person like me having feelings for him. I feel like such a fool for so much. Why don’t things get easier as you get older? The insecurities of a plain, nerdy 16-year-old girl should go away by the time you are in your forties, but there they are glaring at me and beating me into submission. Men are so good at making that happen. They don’t even have to try.

After I unfriended him, he posted something on facebook about it (there were 3 of us that week) and knowing how much I care about him, it didn’t occur to him that something he did might have actually pushed me to make that choice. He went on to say how something like that would have mattered a couple years ago and he might have asked “what did I do?”, but that question didn’t even come into play this time. Perhaps it should have. He then said I didn’t value HIS friendship and dismissed the situation with nothing more than “meh”. Our friendship, our conversations, my feelings all came down to one single dismissive “meh”. The comment stream that followed was so self righteous and hurtful. What the hell happened?

I don’t know if what he said is really how he feels or felt or if what I did actually hurt him. If I hurt him, I certainly didn’t mean to. The last thing I would ever want to do  is hurt someone, especially someone I care about so much. What started out as a really cool friendship devolved into I don’t even know what, all because I was foolish enough to catch feelings. Feelings ruin everything. I thought that unfriending him would be better for me, but it does not seem so. It was a struggle to have feelings and be friends (for both of us it seems), especially when you look at how it changed after my feelings became apparent. It’s not any better now. I feel like I lost one of my best friends and I am heartbroken. I miss him and our conversations so much.  I told him everything, things I don’t tell just anyone. He told me things that most men don’t tell just anyone as well. Just a fool for thinking that mattered I guess. A fool in so many ways.

Now I am feeling a bit lost. And broken. And so hurt. How did feelings become such a bad thing. Feelings for another human are supposed to be a good thing. They are for most people, just not me it seems. That lobotomy I joke about looks better every day.  Not feeling anything would definitely be better than feeling so much. Too bad it isn’t really an option.

Decency isn’t really all that complicated

I drive for Uber and Lyft a couple nights a week. I love it. I have a great time meeting new people and bonding over a variety of subjects–things I am familiar with and things I am interested in and things I had no clue about but the rider is passionate about. I have had a ton of great conversations with strangers, that, under other circumstances, could very easily be my friends.

On occasion, someone gets in my car that I bond with over shared experiences. Last night it was one of those instances.  My last rider was a gay man and his friend (friend only, straight if I am not mistaken) needing a ride after participating in a local Pride event. Unlike me, he was railing on about the guy he thought he would be taking home or going home with that night. I don’t go home with random strangers nor do I want to but that is beside the point. That ranting got us on the subject of dating and single men and all the bullshit that seems to go with it. We commiserated over the pitfalls and  problems that come with dating, single men and feelings. Talk about opening a can of worms!

“What about …………..?”

“OMG. Yes!”

“How about………….?”

“And……………?! And…………?!”

“And then………….?”

“YAASSSSSSSSS!!!!”

It kind of became a bitch fest of two “sisters” clucking about the fallibility and suckishness of men. Not a good path to go down, but when you are bonding………….

So, after last night’s discussion, I got to thinking about  how men think that we women are such complicated creatures when complication is equal on both sides of the gender fence. We are all complicated, being human and all, and chances are that each one of us has baggage associated with the bad things that have happened in our lives and every bad thing that people have done to us.  We are not so complicated as much as we desire and need certain things in our lives with regard to dating, relationships and friendships. In my experience the excuse of  “too complicated” espoused by men is really code for him being too lazy to put in any work with regard to a relationship or friendship. Relationships and friendships require work. The ones that matter do.  So, in contemplating what it is we really want, I came up with a small and very basic list.

  1. If you need something, say something. As much as men want to complain about women expecting them to be mind readers as to what they want or need, men are just as guilty.  Say something. Just say something. Speak up or we will never know.
  2. You want something from me? tell me. Be clear about it. Don’t dance around it, side step it or jump over it. Don’t hint and expect me to know.  If you do any of those things, don’t get pissed when I miss your intentions and then stop speaking to me. Recently, a man I have crushed on off and on for the last 3 years and I have been talking. He will occasionally text or call me and we have met up and talked till the wee hours of the morning. I got the impression there might be a little bit of interest on his part in doing more than just talking. Nothing serious, just physical. He is in a position where he is around beautiful, svelte, horny drunk girls throwing themselves at him all the time. What possible interest could he have in me? I am not beautiful, thin or young (I am more than 10 years older than him). While I don’t want the physical without the emotional, it would have been nice to know his exact intentions. Now whether or not his intention was to be physical, I don’t know and he has since stopped responding to texts and has not communicated in any way with me. WTF?!
  3. Actions speak louder than words so act accordingly. I am a huge believer in watching actions rather than listening to words. Thirteen years of marriage where words were used, but never backed up with corresponding actions, has made me adamant about the importance of said actions. I cannot stand empty words and recently I got caught up in a situation where the actions said the exact opposite of the words, but my feelings made me stupid. You see, the former (yes former–my brain reactivated) object of my affection, while SAYING he valued our friendship and conversations and how he did not see my interest as changing our friendship, changed his actions. Or maybe I just noticed that the actions never did match up.  I last texted him on May 30th. I have yet to hear anything back from him. At present, it has been 17 days since last communication.  Friendship was never was clearly never appreciated or reciprocated. It would seem that he was merely communicating with me to placate me. I hate that. If someone does not want to be in my life, I will be fine. Just walk. But don’t say things because you are afraid of being the bad guy. Bullshitting me only makes you look even worse and will likely incur my wrath. Or indifference. Either one is not good.
  4.  Be faithful.  I cannot stress enough the importance of this. It’s simple–don’t go dipping your wick into anyone else’s pot. Period. I don’t think one single man I have been involved with has ever been faithful. I am not sure a faithful man exists, but I would like to hope he does. I haven’t seen much evidence of it but I am a fool and I will continue to hope. Just as I hope for the existence of unicorns.

In my estrogen fueled rant session I did gain some insight as to men and how they deal with break ups and pain. In my experience and observations, when men experience pain, they seem to feel like theirs is the only pain in existence. And it is worse than any pain that may have come before. The gentleman that shared in my rant pretty much said that same thing. When men, gay or straight, deal with a break up, it destroys them. Not even figuratively.  What men don’t seem to understand is that it pretty much does the same thing to us, but thankfully we can pick up the pieces and put them back together as we move along our daily lives. We rant, we cry, we move on. Now, don’t get me wrong, we don’t always cope in healthy ways. We aren’t super human. We sometimes engage in destructive behavior as a means of coping. We certainly aren’t perfect. However, I am not sure any man wants to compare scars, bruises, bumps and boo-boos with a woman. Chances are that as well as dealing with the ouchies associated with heart break and broken relationships, most women are also coping with the scars associated with sexual assault, rape and/or sexual harassment. Men have pain. We get it. But don’t ever assume we don’t have our own or that it isn’t every bit as bad as yours. Just because you may not see it does not mean that it’s not there.

The short list of wants and/or needs for a woman is probably very similar to a man’s. I think that it would be helpful if we could all figure out a way to communicate openly and honestly with each other and stop assuming things about the other (something I am horribly guilty of. I always assume the worst–relationships have taught me that).  Human nature and fear of rejection and any number of other things keeps us from doing so. We really need to stop using each other, stop hurting each other, start talking to each other and start taking care of each other. Just think of how much better relationships, in whatever form they take, would be if we could just figure those things out.

 

Impulsivity and Irrational Responses

Even with 48 years under my belt, I find that I still make some of my decisions out of an emotional place rather than anything remotely resembling a rational, well thought out place. You might think that with all this life experience, all this relationship experience and some decent level of intelligence, I might think twice or even three times before making a choice, but somehow, there are some choices that are simply responses to being hurt.

Very recently, the object of my affection made it very clear that I am firmly cemented in the friend zone behind what feels like a steel wall  and bound in barbed wire. I am not moving any time soon. He was very honest with me but very kind in what he said. However, rejection is rejection and it’s nearly always painful. So while he made clear it wasn’t me, it was him, that somehow does not keep my brain and heart from telling me otherwise.  Having faced a lifetime of rejection after rejection, I have been conditioned to believe that it IS me. Every single time.  My internal dialogue goes over every flaw, every shortcoming, every single possible reason it could be me. My looks, my weight, my laugh, my eccentric personality, my crazy pink hair and my unfiltered mouth. I convince myself that there is something so wrong with me that it makes me unlovable and unwanted.

So, in response to that, I did something I swore I would never do again–I stepped back into the world of online dating by getting an account on Match.com. After the breakup with the last boyfriend, I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone, but then I met him, caught feelings and realized I really missed having a companion or love interest. His rejection caused me to make an irrational choice, one that I immediately regretted. But, since I had already made the stupid decision and paid for said account,  I thought I would just go with it and see what happened. Can I just insert a huge eyeroll here? OMG. I am not sure what I was thinking, or if I was even thinking at all. I had decided a while back that if I was to date again, it would be an organic process not something forced or fished. Dating sites are not organic, but I am finding that letting things happen naturally isn’t any easier because there is a rather pronounced shortage of good men, unicorns, if you will, anywhere in my vicinity.

So, I started browsing the site and the profiles and guess what—It kind of sucked. Big surprise, right? Yeah–I don’t think so either. Not one single unicorn so far, but I am really not interested so I am not seeing the potential if, in fact, there is any. I wish I had a switch that turned any potential for feelings off. I have found that my feelings always end up getting me hurt.  I have often joked that I would prefer a lobotomy to feelings, but let’s be honest, those feelings are intoxicating and I think we are all looking for that and looking to have them reciprocated.

So after going through the business of being hurt, angry, frustrated and whatever emotion happened to be mixed into the seething pot of feelings, I picked myself up and decided to do what I should have done in the first place. I prayed about it.  I was on my way to a Christian seminar today and told God I was simply looking for someone to go on adventures with.  My children won’t be in my charge for too much longer and I would love to see the world and go on a million adventures with someone.  I told no one about this prayer for someone to adventure with, so no one would have any reason to know.  When the seminar progressed into prophetic prayer, I began praying for God to give me some little sign that there was something to be hopeful for, some way to know he heard me.  Then the pastor looked and me and said that God wanted me to know that he had many adventures planned for me in my future, but that I had to wait on His timing.  He specifically used the word “adventures” so how could anyone know that if it wasn’t His doing? Now, the last time there was a prophetic prayer answer for me, the pastor told me that God wanted me to know that what He had in store for me was more wonderful than anything I had ever known. It took a while and a considerable amount of discomfort and pain, but I am seeing that promised “wonderful” happening every day of my life. It just keeps getting better. The only thing missing at this point is love, but there are now promises of that too. I don’t know where I will find it, but it will come.

So, while I wait for God’s timing, I will continue to work on me. I will take better care of myself and establish a workout routine because my goal for June of next year is to run the Spartan race and finish it. Right now, my boys and I are planning adventures of our own, both local and outside the state of Idaho.  I will relax, have fun, play and just enjoy the present and try not to think so much about the future and what I don’t have right this minute.

Overwhelmed and Happy

My life is weird. I am sure everyone can say that to a certain extent, but mine is just weird, unpredictable, uncomfortable, amazing, fun and sometimes overwhelming. Often all those things occur in one 24 hour span.  Lately my life has felt awesome and overwhelming and wonderful and scary.  There are some things that I want to happen, things that I would love to happen, some things I would like to avoid and some things that unexpectedly jump into my path that I am not sure what to do with. My current situation is that they are all kind of going at once.

So here is what’s going on—

In one post I stated that I was taking the option of finding love off the table. Wasn’t even going to entertain the possibility. But I am an idiot. I should have known better  than to swear something like that off, because as soon as I do, I meet someone.  Now, don’t get ahead of me. The “L” word isn’t even close to the table at the moment, but I did meet someone. And Let me just say that I have absolutely horrible timing. I seriously didn’t mean to catch feelings. That is the last thing I need. My interest is probably the last thing he needs or even wants.  And yet, foolishly, I stepped in it and here I am. And it’s not like I could help it. This person is just a good human being, which is incredibly rare. He is creative and smart and funny. Beautiful inside and out (is it okay to call a man beautiful?). Of course, none of this matters because I think I somehow ruined any chance of reciprocated interest. Not sure exactly what happened, but he is no longer texting me and has all but disappeared from my existence. He is not ready and I am. Timing.  I realize I am a lot to handle and maybe I just scared the hell out of him. Maybe I am not his type. Maybe he prefers waif-like skinny girls (head’s up, I am not). Maybe he prefers submissive and demure (again, I am not). If his social media posts are anything to go by, he is facing the idea of getting into a relationship with a fair amount of trepidation. I am more of the “dive right in, fear be damned” sort.  Regardless, I made him run. And it is a shame.  My kids really like him too. Anywhoo…..

In mid-March I started my new job working for an airline as a reservation agent. It is a job that I will eventually be able to do from home.  I love the company I am now working for. It is unlike any other place I have worked. A great company full of great people and I have yet to see any drama.  As much as I love my new job and as much as I am looking forward to being at home, I am feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment.  And I am not the only one. Most of my class is near tears from being overwhelmed almost every day.  Thankfully, the instructors/supervisors assure us this is normal.  There is a lot of information to try and learn and process and keep straight in a very short amount of time. After 3 weeks in the classroom, we were put on the phones to put what we learned into practice.  Our supervisors warned us that our first phone call would result in forgetting everything including our name.  I forgot everything but my name.  I still have that going for me. I did forget everything else though. A little bit at a time, I am learning to utilize my resources more and my instructors for help, less and less. Still I am overwhelmed and will be for some time I am sure. But, I got this. Or I will get this. Eventually. In the meantime, I need to learn to cope with all the information being thrown at me everyday without going completely whackadoodle. This job, when it becomes second nature as most jobs eventually do, will be awesome. The benefits are amazing too. Not only do I get great medical, dental and vision coverage,   I get travel benefits that I get to share with my children and my parents and, at some point, a spouse, should my life be blessed with one, and his kids when I find him. My life, hopefully, is going to be one adventure after another. I was sleepwalking my way through my life for the last two decades, but getting this job made me wake up. I realize how much I have been missing out on for such a long time. I do not intend to let that continue. I am planning trips and adventures with my kids. Big and small ones. They don’t have to be major, they just have to happen. And they will.  Lunch in Seattle, a day at the Portland zoo, a visit to my brother and new friend (long lost sister?) in Utah, the aquarium in Monterey. Eventually, I plan on going to Italy to see all the art and architecture I studied in college.  That is my dream vacation.

When I got my now totalled Fiat, I started driving for Uber to make money for my car payments. I worked 40+ hours a week at Walmart, drove for Uber several nights a week and made custom jewelry and painted glass orders in my “spare” time. That did not leave a whole lot of time to give to my children. My accident forced me to take a break. I didn’t like the idea of taking a much needed break, but I really didn’t have a choice. After I left Walmart, I had about 3 weeks of vacation before starting my new job, during which I did just about nothing. I unpacked some boxes that had been sitting in my mud room since I moved into this house last May and I cleared out garbage bag after garbage bag of outgrown clothes. I built a new bed, took my kids on a couple of small trips, but mostly I slept. I couldn’t believe how tired I was and how much sleeping I accomplished, but I guess my body and my brain needed the break. Now, I should go back to driving for Uber, but I am finding that I like having time for myself and time for the gym and time for creative endeavors that make me happy and time to just take my kids on drives or to the park or window shopping at the mall. I am resisting going back to driving, but I really need to get back on a schedule and drive again. The money to make car payments would be nice so that it doesn’t have to come out of the rest of my budgeted money.  Once I am at home working, expenses related to driving to work everyday will be gone and that will save us some money, but getting to that point is the trick. Financially, I need to do it, but mentally, that is another story. I am happy having time.

One of the most overwhelming, scary and wonderful aspects of my life at the moment is parenthood. Some people are blessed with compliant children who never really challenge them or smart off or roll their eyes. I am not that parent.  My fourteen-year-old does all of those things and more. He is neither Easy nor even-tempered. He is a child that feels whatever feeling he has 110%. If he is happy, he is the most joyful, happy kid you will see. When he is angry, he is on fire pissed off. And his feelings turn on a dime. I have never seen such a thing. One sentence can reduce him to tears.  It is annoying because sometimes I really want to yell and scream back because my frustration gets the better of me. It is really hard to maintain my cool with him because he knows every single “piss mom off” button and he usually smashes all of them in rapid succession. And as crazy as he makes me and as frustrating as he is, he is also funny and goofy and ambitious and smart and compassionate. He has a love of life and a passion for tearing things apart to see how they work. He is in such a hurry to grow up and I am just not ready. Somehow this emotionally volatile teenager also has a knack of finding something good and pointing it out when my day sucks dog excrement and I am falling apart. That kid makes me crazy, but he is often the restorer of my sanity.

So, I have been slightly overwhelmed by feelings I shouldn’t have, work that I haven’t quite “gotten”, finances that are not a thing yet but will be soon and the emotional battleground of raising a hormonal teenage boy. But as overwhelming as those things are, they are also wonderful, exciting and scary. And such is my life.

Beaten by the Storm, Blessed in the Aftermath

It seems that no matter your age, life goes through cycles that comfort or challenge us. No one is immune, but it sure seems that some cycles find us taking on more than our fair share of challenges. I seem to be in that place and I have had an avalanche of excrement showering me for the last several months. While I try to maintain a positive attitude and remain hopeful, the rapid rate at which life keeps knocking me on my ass is making it difficult to keep getting back up.  I think it is moments (or months) like this when being not just single, but alone, feels the worst. Some days it would be nice to come home, curl up with someone and bawl your eyes out and be reassured by them that it will get better and you will tackle the bullshit together. But that is not where I am. I am on the single and alone side which means I pretty much handle everything myself and to give you some idea of the avalanche I have been under, here are just a few things on my plate:

Work. My job has been getting consistently worse by the day. When I started my job, I loved being at work. I was in my element dealing with customers and I loved the people I work with and the job I was doing. I got promoted and was put in a department I didn’t want and never would’ve asked for. I found that after being in that department for a while, I loved it. It was a department that no one wanted, but again, I loved it. Then she happened. She made my work environment a hostile one. She complained about everything and everyone constantly. Especially me and it seemed to be her mission to submarine me and get me in trouble with management, even lying and taking credit for my work in doing so. I tried to be the bigger person and just let it go, but when you have a large number of coworkers all telling you she is talking shit about you to anyone and everyone that would listen, it grows old and stressful very quickly. Add to that, one shift (mine) was made to do 3 shifts worth of work because 2nd and third shift weren’t doing their job, either because they couldn’t or we didn’t have the workers available. We have been shorthanded for a very long time and my store has a rather high turnover rate. Being made to do all that work meant that our departments were not getting the attention they need. Then, getting pulled to other departments constantly added to the problem as well as a manager that wanted nothing to do with the area (mine as well as a few others) he was given and stayed out and essentially avoided helping or participating in the running of the departments. One shouldn’t have to chase or beg to be listened to or heard when assistance is needed. I was reprimanded twice for bullshit reasons and if I had been given the opportunity to stay in my department and actually do MY job, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Meanwhile “She” no. 2 is doing her best to tank me and my job. I knew she talked about me behind my back and went to management for stupid reasons, but OMG, she is ruthless. My friends have come to me and told me to watch out for her because she is trying to cause trouble for me. I know I am not the only one because management has received numerous complaints about her. I spoke to my manager and was told to basically suck it up because she is untouchable. She is the biggest shit talker and pot stirrer and no one will do anything. Imagine the teacher’s pet, mean girl, play ground bully and hall monitor–that is her in a nutshell. So, needless to say, I am looking for other employment opportunities, ones that don’t foster drama and truly have a culture of fairness and opportunity.

Illness. Because my immune system is already in overdrive (thank you auto immune disease) fighting itself and has nothing to fight the cooties that get dragged into work or home from school, I am prone to illness. A few weeks ago, I started feeling sick and it got to the point where I couldn’t work. My employer has a point system for absences and you basically get penalized for having the nerve to get sick. Now, I understand the reasons for the system. Without a system of checks in place, people abuse the privilege of having paid sick time. I called in on a Saturday, had my regular days off on Sunday and Monday, tried to go to work on Tuesday, but felt like I was dragging my self through wet cement and could not stop coughing. I took my lunch early to go see the doctor who, thankfully, was a couple miles from my work. I got a breathing treatment and was told I needed to go home to rest and the doc gave me a note to give to my employer. That not was not enough and I had to file a claim to get FMLA time for 2 absences. Two. A lot of paperwork and process to avoid getting points. I am sure that the stress from work didn’t help my immune system, but what can you do? I have to work so I learn to just deal. Here it is three weeks later and I still have a cough and lung butter, but I am slowly recovering.

Car accident. This one pisses me off because it was my fault. I am a careful driver and it has been 20 years since I had a collision accident. I was at a roundabout, the guy in front of me had started pulling forward into the roundabout, I started pulling forward and glanced left to make sure the roundabout would be clear, turned my head to the right and he had stopped. I smacked into him. The impact was not enough for either of our cars’ airbags to be deployed. I gave him my information and we went on our way and I found out later that morning my car was pretty much totaled. I will never own another European car.  It kind of broke my heart because I loved that car. It suited me.

My Grandpa. Now my grandpa can be gruff. He can be very blunt. At times he can be a little unkind. That being said, my grandpa can also be an amazingly generous person. While I was married he bailed my ex and I out a couple of times financially. Shortly before I left my husband, he bought me a car (a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon–another car that I absolutely loved). When I left my husband, he let me move into his house, rent free and bill free until I could find a job, get on my feet and find a place for me and my boys. The morning of my accident, I found out he had been taken, by ambulance, the night before, to the hospital. He was in the ICU–bad heart, infection in his lungs, blood sugar out of control, unstable blood pressure, dementia.  Two weeks of blur and tears on a hair trigger.

UPDATE: It often takes me several days or weeks (unfortunately) to complete a post and this is no exception. A lot has happened since I started this one and all of it positive. So–here’s what happened.

My grandpa, much to the surprise of the medical staff, got stronger and was able to leave the hospital and then the rehab center they put him in. Things are somewhat under control. His heart is pretty much on borrowed time, but the other things leveled out and improved. Except the dementia. That won’t ever improve. We had suspected for a while that dementia had taken hold, based on his memory issues and behavior, but since being admitted to the hospital that night, it has gotten monumentally worse. It is tough seeing him so feeble and quiet.  But he is still with us for now. My parents have taken on his care and he has moved in with them, but that is proving to be a challenge. My mom works and my dad, while retired, had knee replacement surgery in October and he is having his other knee done next week. Life is certainly not without challenges.

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of changes and blessings and I have gotten sort of a mini restart.

I am almost completely better from the bronchitis. What takes a normal person 2 weeks to get over will take me 4, pretty much guaranteed. My lungs aren’t completely clear, but I think that once I get back into the gym, the activity will clear out anything left in them. At any rate I feel tremendously better.

Mid-February I found new employment. I was offered a job at an airline doing reservations. It is not like anything I have done before, but it is with a company that has happy, content employees. Everyone seems to love their job and their employer. That is one of the things that was a priority for me.  Knowing how unhappy I was at and with my job in the last year and how unhappy a lot of others were, finding something with less bullshit, favoritism and drama was paramount. I know that each job is unique and comes with its own set of issues and drama, but one of the best parts of my job is that after about 7 or 8 months, they will be setting me up to work from home. I will still have crazy shifts, including graveyards, but I will be at home and won’t have to inconvenience others so that I can do my job. Not only that but I will work them for 3 months at a time and not one week a month, 6 months out of the year. Stability! Yay!

Leaving my job was an interesting experience. The woman that made my life hell and constantly put daggers in my back the minute it was turned, got a tad nastier than normal. I confided in someone I mistook for a friend about her trying to start shit again with another friend who quickly put the kibosh on her attempts to run me down yet again. This so-called friend, who warned me numerous times to watch my back because the nightmare was at it again, immediately told said nightmare what I told him. The nightmare immediately started texting me, telling me I was the cause of the drama in the store, claimed I had created a hostile work environment for her and hinted at possible legal ramifications. It was hilarious because this person spent the majority of her shift, every single day talking shit about one person then moving on to the next to talk shit about the last person. She was mean, condescending, rude and disrespectful to almost everyone. Her whole entire life was the creation of drama and discord in the workplace. And she tried to put her entire life’s work on my shoulders. Effing Hilarious.  It must suck to be so miserable that you must inflict that misery on everyone around you and then not see that you are the cause. Or enjoy being the cause. I am not sure which. At any rate, I was sick, just sick of her shit and management’s refusal to handle it. So I went above everyone’s heads and called the corporate ethics hotline and there will be an investigation. Now, I don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, but I definitely want to see justice done so that others are not subjected and forced to shut up about such things in the workplace. I no longer work there so I will not be subjected to retaliation. If I can make the environment better for anyone else, then that crap I was forced to deal with will have been worth it. I only wish I had been brave enough to do something sooner.

My car situation has been resolved in a big, amazing way. For a little over a week, my insurance company paid for me to drive a rental while they determined exactly what to do with my car. Once we figured that mess out, I was given limited time for the car and did not have a replacement. I was still waiting for my tax return to be able to take care of it. Now, while all of this is going on, my grandpa can no longer drive or live on his own. His house remains vacant and he had two cars sitting at his house. My dad started driving my grandpa’s truck and I asked to drive his Focus until I could get a new car. My mom informed me that my sister, who has two incomes, two working vehicles and is better off financially (although not by much) was driving my grandpa’s car. I got a bit bent out of shape about that because at this point, I am a single mother with one income and NO running vehicle. Now, don’t let me lose you, this ends well. Really well. Since my dad is now the owner and driver of my grandpa’s truck, he let me borrow his Buick until I could get another car. It’s 17 years old but runs pretty well and it was getting me from point A to point B just fine. My parents discussed actually giving me the car, but they weren’t sure, given its age, just how long it would last and I really did need a good, reliable car. So their solution was to sign over the title as a trade in toward a newer, more reliable car. Oh hallelujah!!! This worked out wonderfully after all and I am extremely happy. I bought a 2016 Dodge Dart Limited with all kinds of bells and whistles. I actually like this car more than my Fiat and I LOVED my Fiat. Things couldn’t have worked out any better than they did. God (or the universe if that is your belief system) truly knew what he was doing. Everything landed just right.

After dealing with a constant barrage and downpouring of excrement for the last year and especially the last few months, things turned around marvelously better than I had hoped or could plan. We all go through storms, sometimes for an overwhelmingly long period of time, but after those storms, the sun comes out and we get to enjoy the blessings that follow. Right now, I am going to enjoy the blessing-steeped sunny weather and not worry about the next storm that comes, because I know it’s coming. When it does, I will fight my way through that one too.